Automobiles are one of the most universal modern technologies. They serve as a lifeline for humankind, carrying goods and passengers. Modern automobiles have evolved from a combination of advances in science and technology. As with any industry, they have benefited from the competition between manufacturers from around the world. The automobile industry has also benefitted from legislation that controls emissions and safety.
Today, the most common types of automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles that are powered by an internal combustion engine. This is a type of engine that uses fuel such as gasoline, diesel, or LPG. An electric car is another option. In the United States, nearly one-quarter of all passenger cars are battery-powered. Electric vehicles, however, have a limited range.
The automobile was originally a bicycle-like contraption. A bicycle builder named Ernest Michaux created a similar machine in the mid-19th century. Later, the engineer Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler and Karl Maybach worked to develop a gas-powered internal combustion engine. Both of them produced thirty vehicles between 1890 and 1895.
During the late 1800s, the first modern automobiles emerged. The Stout Scarab was the precursor to the minivan, featuring a streamlined beetle-like shape and a rear engine. It was designed for transportation of a large number of passengers.
Another type of vehicle, the motorcycle, is a two-wheeled vehicle that has a rider wearing a helmet. Motorcycles are generally used for light traffic, such as shopping, commuting, and sightseeing. However, they are not classified as automobiles.
Motorcycles are not considered to be automobiles if they have side cars or are three-wheeled. In order to be classified as an automobile, a motorcycle must have an engine and be capable of a certain level of speed. While motorcycles have more space and are more capable of carrying more items, they have a smaller amount of passengers.
Today, most modern automobiles are highly technical systems, and they require thousands of component parts to function properly. They use a variety of technologies, including engines, transmissions, and body styles. These are manufactured by thousands of companies all over the world.
The automobile was the answer to the 19th-century dream of self-propelling carriages. Steam-powered, horseless vehicles had been developed, but these could not go very fast. Early steam-powered vehicles were not efficient, and starting them was a hassle.
After the invention of the internal combustion engine, the automotive industry has undergone significant change. Manufacturers have been able to separate the market into many segments, and they have been able to make their products affordable for middle-class families. Many new models are introduced frequently. There are now more than 70 million passenger cars on the road in the world, making them the preferred family transport.
In the United States, a person drives 4.8 trillion kilometers (3 trillion miles) per year. Approximately 70 percent of those trips are made by passenger cars. One-quarter of these cars are from foreign manufacturers. Passenger cars now account for the largest segment of the automobile industry in the U.S.